Behind the songs

David Brewis

We have a quick understanding about what each other is aiming for with a song idea. A couple of reference points, a title, a musical hook, and we're off, although finishing them properly can take a while. A song has to have some original "thing" to it, and something in there that people could get, or relate to. We have finished quite a few songs, have an album recorded, and another well on the way. Why stop now? We had enough time off already. Almost as much as ABBA.

Paul Woods

We never thought we'd have a late blooming career adventure, so we're really delighted to beputting out new music. It's been a great experience and I'm prouder of this than anythingI've done before.


DB Autoleisureland was a car-related retail park in Sunderland in the mid-1970s. The new Spire bridge over the River Wear goes through the site now. It was old industrial buildings turned over to used cars, Halford's, and some stalls selling cut-out US Soul and Jazz LP's. And Bovril. The roof leaked. But it was great. Under that roof, Bootsy and Castrol GTX. Our first release.

PW Autoleisureland is about small town dreams and aspirations and wanting to create and take part in something different - only to find out things rarely end up that way. Our former band The Kane Gang had a US hit with Motortown, which we can safely bet was the only American chart record about a Japanese car plant in Sunderland. We felt there was more to write about that subject, so basically Autoleisureland is a prequel to Motortown and our new album's title track Infiniti Drive is the sequel. This was the first recent song we collaborated on and it really opened up the way for how we wanted to sound.

DB Fade Out is an electro-pop/rock thing, wondering musically what would happen if Eurythmics, Hall & Oates and Steely Dan mashed it up one night. And also what Paul says. The lyrics may be about a band similar to the Kane Gang, having no luck with a record company similar to a certain Hollywood record company they were associated with, after a couple of similarly decent hits.

PW The main musical vision for Fade Out was an amalgam of A-ha crossed with Don Henley's The Boys Of Summer - electropop with West Coast rock. Lyrically, it was going to be a metaphor for the ending of a relationship but it changed into being about a pop band who were just discovering their best days were already behind them. It's not all autobiographical but some things we experienced are in there.

DB On The Record was a title that Paul gave me to think about. I don’t know why, but I thought of early 1980s Hall & Oates, with their colourful video promo clips, and imagined the literal depiction of an actual record, a vinyl record, about ten times normal size, and giant record player, with a band performing around it. So then I was musically thinking of a modern version of an 80s take on Motown with chiming guitars and synths, crashing drums, simple tune, catchy chorus. Nothing to do with Paul’s idea at all, but it got me going.

PW This is all about urging someone to commit to a relationship, or at least to make a decision. At first it wasn't meant to be a 'love' song, it was inspired by then British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn seemingly sitting on the fence in the Brexit debate, for fear of upsetting so many Pro-Brexit Labour voters maybe. It was sort of a plea for someone to have the courage of their convictions, whether in life or in a relationship. Musically, Dave and I were also listening to a lot of Christine and the Queens at the time. I’m not quite sure if it shows.

DB And God Created Neon There’s a pattern emerging here; another title from Paul, and this time I’m thinking huge synths, pounding electronic drums. SOS Band, Pet Shop Boys, Cameo, and especially Dollar in the Trevor Horn period. Going for a huge Hollywood sized thing.

PW Blimey, right. One Saturday night in the kitchen. Cooking, probably drinking a beer. The words popped into my head ... And God Created Neon. Obviously triggered by the Roger Vadim/Brigette Bardot film And God Created Woman. Lyrically, it's basically a little parable and a sly dig at Creationism and those who only see God's work in sunrises, sunsets, beautiful lakes, and seascapes. Give me burning nights, dazzled angels, and blinded saints anytime.

DB What Might Have Been I think that I had the music for this before anything else happened, I was going for a West Coast Drive Time cool breeze Donald Fagen vibe. Rosie Vela, Boz Scaggs. And a touch of our Kane Gang’s Motortown.

PW Years ago, helping my son do his newspaper round, I noticed the name plaques on the walls of houses. You know, corny signs like Dunroamin', Bella Vista, Terra Firma etc. Jokingly, I thought if I had one it would be What Might Have Been. Kerching, song title. At about the same time I was pondering the lyrics, there was a TV dramatisation of a Philip K Dick short story The Commuter. It focuses on a man caught between living in an idyllic, imaginary town that is much more pleasant than his real-life situation. I’ll just quickly stress here that the song is not autobiographical. So, anyway, in What Might Have Been I wrote about people wanting to live in an alternative reality, a place which becomes a boom town. I think this is our Nightfly tribute. I could definitely live in a Donald Fagen World.

DB KC & The Sunshine Band, (released July 2022) as a song, and as a recording, came from a vivid dream I had in the 1990s, where I was in a floating disco, on a ship in the river Tyne, and the record playing was this actual song; it was number one in the charts, everyone loved it, it was called KC & The Sunshine Band, and it was sung by Donald Fagen. Makes sense. I tried to get our song to sound as close to this dream as I could. After years of trying, it's done. Our second single , out now.

PW KC & the Sunshine Band is about everything and nothing, about disco and pop, about "the potency of cheap music" - and how artists can be naff but great at the same time.

DB No Matter How Far is based upon a tune I did for guitar, in a kind of mid-Bobby Womack, mixed with a Gospel-esque Thom Bell Philly feel, aiming for a walking, travelling, endless searching sound. Trying to sound lost but also uplifting.

PW The only soul ballad on the album is one of the earliest songs we converted from Dave’s instrumental record and it held its own while we eventually took other slower tracks off Infiniti Drive just to keep it banging a bit. I really like the rhythm and the Philly guitar breaks. The other soulish ballads we kept from the album are set to appear on an EP that we are planning to release fairly soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

DB The Blue Star Paul explains this one better as he wrote the lyric and had the idea. I had the concept of a few different musical genres co-existing, and a structure that never settles, just suspends itself in a kind of loop, like a rhythmic pub crawl where the chords never resolve, they never "go home". Kind of, but with a fresh West Coast feel.

PW The Blue Star Years ago I worked away from home and returned most weekends by train. I remember  speeding through the dark, past the Team Valley railyards, heading to the Tyne's glittering bridges overlooked by the sapphire sign of the Newcastle Breweries - a star gazing down on a city, world-famous for beer and the drinking of it. Blue Stars used to shine on almost every corner. 

Those memories sparked the first few lines of this song but it also led me to examine the North East's, and my, relationship with alcohol. Was The Blue Star shining on our forebears offering an escape or was it really Blue Kryponite - weakening their lives while reinforcing the vicious cycle of work, drink, poverty, misery and making brewing barons even richer?

Now Newcastle is regularly named as one of the world's top party cities. Thousands hit 'The Diamond Strip' at weekends. Step carefully, there's ghosts out there.

DB High Summer was musically inspired more by some books, a TV movie, Americana (David Carradine), and an episode of The Fugitive called Landscape With Running Figures. The sweeping and swooshing keyboards imitating hot weather and the breeze while the attractive carnival rides suck people in, on a warm evening, in the middle of nowhere. Travelling carnivals and funfairs are like black holes that appear late in the day, in quiet towns.

PW After whatever lockdown it was, while driving I kept seeing flyers and banners with the slogan Summer’s Coming. I don’t know if it was a government information campaign or what. This is when things were opening up maybe too quickly and I thought the phrase sounded a tad sinister. This song deals with Covid and climate change, two end of the world scenarios that I found I could only write about in a fictional way. So I took two of my favourite writers, Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, and sort of wrote the lyrics in their styles. I wanted to capture the atmosphere of Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and King’s Hearts In Atlantis. Thematically, I always thought I wanted the song to be a cross between The Style Council’s Long Hot Summer and Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper. Get your head around that one.

DB Another Star Is Falling is, musically, a kind of meditation, a sinking feeling that all is not well in the world. It is matched perfectly by Paul’s lyric, which came later. I like the Old-English harmony sound, I used to perform in some Purcell and Vaughan Williams when I was at college, trying to learn how it all works, and I found that occasionally it can work in modern music. It is wistful and sad, but isn’t the Blues, or at least, it isn’t the American kind, but maybe it is a Blues all the same. Thinking of the music people we have lost in the last decade or more, I put in a few musical cues.

PW This was inspired by the events of 2016. The song wasn’t written then, it took a while to write. The deaths of Bowie, Prince - childhood heroes, adult inspirations. Those, along with Brexit in the UK and across the water, the election of Donald Trump, for me signified the decline of the Baby Boomer generation and, unfortunately, the start of a new dark age. For the generation we come from, the death of so many music stars seemed to mark the end of an era, reminding us of our mortality and that a lot of the music we loved – the soundtrack to our lives - would probably be forgotten in the near future. If you don’t think so, ask some teenagers about the Beatles. I may be wrong … I hope I am, but …

DB Infiniti Drive Based upon Paul's title and lyrics. To be fair, he also had the lion's share of the music done as well, so I just dressed it up a bit. Although it is about looking to the future in our call centre-flexi hours culture, I thought a good 1980s stomp was in order. So I bought a Fender bass that has just the right Frankie Relax type of oink to it, and got the synth stuff going. We went up to Infiniti Drive in reality, to take some pics. Considering it is in the middle of some lovely green belt land, it feels lonely and desolate, like somewhere on the outskirts of a Texas industrial city.

PW Infiniti Drive was inspired by seeing the road sign for Infiniti Drive, a real "street" near the massive Nissan plant in our home city of Sunderland I just thought what a stupid name for a street, literally a road to nowhere - but it was a good song title. After Brexit, the threat of Nissan closing its UK operation became very real, I started pondering what would happen if Nissan pulled out of the city and the £100 million business network being built around it. A big theme, I know, but we did at least make it catchy.